Why so japanocentric?

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EdipisReks

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You conflating a group of wines and wines in general. The 76-78 tastings don't tell you anything about the superiority of Napa or French wines, but of the comparisons of certain wines at certain times. While interesting as a media or marketing event, and historically important for our wine industry, it doesn't say much about the wines produced by two winemaking nations.
there are no great wines, only great bottles of wine. that's true everywhere.
 

MikeHL

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I do believe you are quite right.
Knifemaking has been around for many centuries all around the globe.
Europe being but one of those areas.
As a Norwegian who can trace my kin back to the 11th century by now (still searching..), I have read many a story about great tools in use up here.
And my simple background/history is nothing compared to the middle- or south of Europe.
Or North Africa for that matter!
They seem to go back for milleniums when it comes to developing products that have improved slowly but surely over the centuries.

The thing about the Japanese, to me, is that they, more than others, have been single minded enough, or isolated if you prefer, to persue perfection on many areas for a very long time.
The result of that is, imo, that they have developed a unique culture that I would bet a lot of us enjoy parts of today.
Knifemaking being but one of those.

As to the Japanese entry of the "scene", I'm not sure what that really means as to the actual quality of cutlery products produced over there, here or anywhere else;)
To me, that is more a consequence of ability, or desire, to reach the marketplace as it were.
Agreed, the Japanese do tend to be specialist, as well they like to take everything to the level obsession. An example of contrast can be the Chinese kitchen where the clever is the do it all, compared to Japan where they have a unique knife for the butchery every kind animal (looking at the zknives listing)

Well by "scene",I was referring to a period when Japanese cutlery was seldom known or used in the western kitchens.
 

Zwiefel

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You conflating a group of wines and wines in general. The 76-78 tastings don't tell you anything about the superiority of Napa or French wines, but of the comparisons of certain wines at certain times. While interesting as a media or marketing event, and historically important for our wine industry, it doesn't say much about the wines produced by two winemaking nations.
I accept that....it's a pretty generic observation about data sampling...prone to the errors all such samplings have. I doubt we are going to get a longitudinal test of this sort though...these tests were astonishing enough. The sad truth is that these folks are trying to sell products, not conduct a search for truth....or even preferences. and on the whole, we as consumers are trying to find something that makes us happy at a particular moment...and that has little to do with objectivity. I'm not, in fact, making an argument for the superiority of napa wines (though I have indeed enjoyed the many hours I have spent in napa)...but rather making an argument about cultural prejudices in general.
 

Keith Sinclair

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I getting a good laugh:rofl2:from this thread.Sounds like me betting I can whip okole using a thin carbon to cut a case of lemons.To me bang for the buck & quality Japanese make the best knives.
 

tk59

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I've easily tried out over a couple hundred Japanese knives from dozens of makers. I can count on one hand the number of knives I didn't think were very nice to use. Those are pretty good odds. I've also tried out a lot of other knives. Very few of these others get top marks for cutting performance. I'm not going to say I'm completely unbiased but I try to be and as much as possible, I make sure I use the opinions of others both from the forum and elsewhere to verify or refute my conclusions. There is good reason to trust in Japanese-made cutlery. I also agree with the bang for the buck comments.
 

ThEoRy

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Pretentious words
You're telling me that western knife makers aren't using more advanced heat treatment methods with a greater range of high quality steel? Are you calling Devin and Pierre Hicksville hobbyists? LOL Your words not only come off as pretentious, they sound quite racist and insulting too. Coming from a guy who cuts one onion a week, poorly at that, I'd say maybe you should tone it down a little there.
 

jaybett

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The forum want the high end knives at the best possible prices. It doesn't matter which country is making the knife. Language barrier doesn't stop knife nuts from ordering knives. If the craftsman has a web site, a knife nut will order from them.

What ever it is about the Japanese, their culture, to many of their sword makers being forced to make kitchen knives after the war. They make the best knives, at prices, that is difficult for others to match. A custom maker in the West is going to be hard pressed to make a knife that performs as well as a Heji, Kato, Shigefusa, for the money.

Craftsman in the west can make knifes, that are either one of a kinds, or tailored to the individual. So far they have not been successful at producing knives in large numbers. Murray Carter being the exception. Where did Bob Kramer go, when he wanted to produce his knifes in larger numbers? Japan.

Jay
 

connie

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there aren't many euro knife makers that make enough kitchen knives. and when there are, they don't really spark our interest the way japanese style knives do.

=D
what kind of kitchen knives style you like?
 

Stumblinman

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Wow, you go Birney with 2 Ns... I've found there's a way to think about things that makes sense. Like you wouldn't stare at the stars to see the dew or, follow the moon to see the sun.... It is what it is. Japan makes great knives, China makes great fire works, The US (in many cases) sets a stage to allow people to develop and hone their skills to the max. It's not that complicated. And I have to tell you I like wine and my favorite is from South America. As far as France, Yes!, they developed great wines but since phylloxera they seem to have a little of the US in almost every bottle there.... Italy did a paradigmn (sp) shift deal when they found they're wines not selling. There's greatness all over but some shine more than others and it's hard to not follow them.
 

franzb69

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what kind of kitchen knives style you like?
at the moment it's japanese.

but really, it shouldn't matter if it's chinese, japanese, european, american or whatever. so long as the knife does that i want it to do, edge taking and edge holding is great, the comfort level is great, heat treat great, the price is really good. i'd get it.

i prefer carbon steel.
 
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My take on this is I'm sure there are nice knives to be found here and there, but I'm interested in the traditions and culture behind the makers in Japan and so I tend to ignore non-Japanese makers. It's also the land of natural sharpening stones and so has this whole other side to it that you don't see elsewhere.

To go back to near the beginning of this thread, yes, I also think language plays a part too. However, not in the way that was previously discussed. Obviously, it's much easier for the average KKFer to communicate with US custom makers, for example, and so people order customs from them, even if sometimes the wait is way long and the prices are quite high, but then of course they'll probably be quite happy with their knives as they were made specifically for them. This is an obvious advantage for the US makers and something which, I think, enhances their reputation as customers are likely to be very satisfied and proud of their purchases. However, imagine if communication were as easy with the Japanese makers and it was easy to order customs from them? Would be great. Non-Japanese makers might a bit of business, too.

As for wine, no country can come close to the range of styles and quality found in France. Without a doubt. There are wonderful wines everywhere, of course.
 

Zwiefel

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My take on this is I'm sure there are nice knives to be found here and there, but I'm interested in the traditions and culture behind the makers in Japan and so I tend to ignore non-Japanese makers. It's also the land of natural sharpening stones and so has this whole other side to it that you don't see elsewhere.
What about Arkansas stones?
 

Zwiefel

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What about 'em? ;)

Doesn't have the allure, Dan. Do you know Hakka stones? Well, Hakkayama translates as 'Mint Mountain'. This is the stuff of fantasy!
Just pointing out there are other places with a tradition of natural stones...not a purely Japanese experience.
 
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Of course.

Forget the title, but there was also a thread on this not too long ago. Surely there are plenty of sources yet to be discovered/exploited around the world, but in this regard by geological accident again Japan still seems to have been blessed. Japan-o-centrism continues.
 

Marko Tsourkan

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My take on this is I'm sure there are nice knives to be found here and there, but I'm interested in the traditions and culture behind the makers in Japan and so I tend to ignore non-Japanese makers. It's also the land of natural sharpening stones and so has this whole other side to it that you don't see elsewhere.
...
I think this thread covered all possible reasons (availability, affordability, generally good performance, etc) why Japanese knives are popular.

On the other hand, little is said about the narrow choice of steels that are available, quality of heat treatment, quality of fit and finish, etc, and pricing on hand made knives.

Steels that are used by most Western makers tend to be deeper hardening carbon steels, alloyed steels and stainless steels that require heat treatment in a controlled environment (convection furnaces or molted salt). Cryogenic treatment and proper tempering enhance the quality of HT process resulting in better blade. Frankly, I don't know what wire edge is or abnormal burr formation or need for micro-bevel for that matter. And that is on blades that are 62-63Rc hard.

So, if two things are down (quality steel and optimal heat treatment), what's left is a geometry and a profile. For some makers this is the hardest, and that's where studying various geometries employed by J. makers and adopting one or more is essential. Getting performance feedback from pro and home cooks alike will allow to make changes and improve the performance of a knife.

So put everything together, steel, HT, geometry and profile, I see no reason why Western makers' knives can't be at least as good (or better) than any top performing J knives out there.

We are not comparing an ability of a Western maker to forge a san mai blank, or heat treat by eye, or grind a knife on a giant water wheel. Some of those processes take decades to master. We are comparing finished products. Put them two side by side and cut with them. Best test is to put them through a shift or two in a pro kitchen.

M
 

bkdc

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We are comparing finished products. Put them two side by side and cut with them. Best test is to put them through a shift or two in a pro kitchen.

M
+1

Show a lifelong Euro knife using chef a good Japanese knife and his eyes light up as if he's discovered a revelation. This usually doesn't work visa versa. It's not that the knife is Japanese, but that it performs so well. Yes, there are awesome non-Japanese knives, but in general, Japanese knives perform better. Steel, geometry, profile.
 

NO ChoP!

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I think if the OP wants to shine some light on a new product, he should buy one; post a review; start a pass-around, etc...

I remember when no one heard of Mizuno, or Watanabe, or Takeda, and someone posted a thread stating, "hey look what I got!"

And I'm not sure there isn't interest outside of Japanese or US custom makers; this community is hungry for new product; so much that we are rediscovering vintage artifacts; Sabatier, Forgecraft, Herder, etc...
 

maxim

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Frankly, I don't know what wire edge is or abnormal burr formation or need for micro-bevel for that matter. And that is on blades that are 62-63Rc hard.
M

Hehe then you dont Sharpen your knives :p
 

ThEoRy

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On the other hand, little is said about the narrow choice of steels that are available, quality of heat treatment, quality of fit and finish, etc, and pricing on hand made knives.

Steels that are used by most Western makers tend to be deeper hardening carbon steels, alloyed steels and stainless steels that require heat treatment in a controlled environment (convection furnaces or molted salt). Cryogenic treatment and proper tempering enhance the quality of HT process resulting in better blade. Frankly, I don't know what wire edge is or abnormal burr formation or need for micro-bevel for that matter. And that is on blades that are 62-63Rc hard.
Thank you, that was exactly my original point about coming full circle. I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't stick a blade in a furnace until it reaches the perfect color for heat treatment like Master Doi. I'm suggesting there may perhaps be more precise methods of temperature control and quenching that Western makers are taking advantage of. Utilizing modern materials and technology to improve an age old craft.
 

ajhuff

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Thank you, that was exactly my original point about coming full circle. I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't stick a blade in a furnace until it reaches the perfect color for heat treatment like Master Doi. I'm suggesting there may perhaps be more precise methods of temperature control and quenching that Western makers are taking advantage of. Utilizing modern materials and technology to improve an age old craft.
True. Cryogenic treatments are a relatively recent technique.

-AJ
 

Brad Gibson

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OK, I'm still of the mindset that French wines are much more enjoyable as a whole than those from California--big and in your face works better with IPA's than Bordeaux grapes. Sorry for tangent...:running:
Don't forget that all of the French vines are now based off American vines. All the French vines got murdered by an insect. They imported our vines because they were not effected by the pest. If it weren't for American grape vines that holy Bordeaux would no longer be around!
 
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Exaggeration. No, that's just rootstock and the real vines are then grafted on. Knife-wise, it would be as though the Japanese still made the blades, but then had to attach them to US handles. (Which is what many knife-heads here seem to like to do anyway.)

Of couse the insect pest, phylloxera, which found those noble Old World roots so delicious also originated from the eastern US. Will give you that!
 

Brad Gibson

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Lol!!! I guess that does go hand and hand with this argument! I like it patatas!
 

stevenStefano

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To get back to the original post. Why Japanese knives? Value. I can get a Japanese knife that blows any German or French knife out of the water for much less money. Also the profiles on German knives on particular look horrendous. There is also that you can't get 270 gyutos in most Euro lines.
 

JKerr

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I'd be curious to find out why most large Euro produces (Wustof, Henkels, Sabatier k, Thiers, Lion etc) really only work with one or two steels in their kitchen knives; Henkels being something of an exception with their Miyabi lines but they're obviously more Japanese inspired.

To the best of my knowledge, Wustof use 1 steel, henkels use the same stainless for all their euro range, the various Sabatier companies use 1 stainless, 1 carbon and so on. But they use better steels for their pocket knives and razors; 19c27, RWL, 13c26, 90mcv8 etc. Is it the logistics of changing steels, perhaps the current equipment they use isn't suitable for certain steels or maybe it's just tradition?
 

Benuser

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It's not the producers who are traditionalists, it's both the French kitchen professionals and - more than elsewhere - the general public as well who are raised with the honing steel for daily maintenance.

The French producers of kitchen cutlery depend greatly on their home market, and introducing harder steel types would endanger their position.
 

bieniek

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So put everything together, steel, HT, geometry and profile, I see no reason why Western makers' knives can't be at least as good (or better) than any top performing J knives out there.

We are not comparing an ability of a Western maker to forge a san mai blank, or heat treat by eye, or grind a knife on a giant water wheel. Some of those processes take decades to master. We are comparing finished products. Put them two side by side and cut with them. Best test is to put them through a shift or two in a pro kitchen.

M
You are missing the feeling/feedback imho.
I dont want my knife to feel like piece of rubber on a stone and make nasty noise - cause maker says its better for me. I want it tough and I must say I dont know what I would do if I had to sharpen every month, get bored or something? Same if sharpening was no challenge. You just kind of get fed up with it.

It is funny to see the same arguments here that are getting used in Modernist cuisine Books and modernist movement.
Better temperature control gives extra precision and such.
The thing is, some ingredients, take fillet of beef only has this delicious succulence to it when you do it the old school way. It might be overcooked here and there, but you want your perfect flavour or you want your perfect doneness? you can choose.
Same with knives, isnt it?
 

Gator

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Actually, in 2 different cases, blind comparison of napa + french wines has resulted in napa wines being judged better....by french judges. obviously, no one is bound to agree with that assessment...and each has their own preferences...but until wine judging is routinely done blindly, it is all BS. Double-blind testing is the hallmark of objectivity.
I don't doubt that for a second :)
Few weeks ago there was a show on NatGeo, topic was brain function, specifically power of suggestion/perception, and one of the experiments involved wine.
Basically, guys poured the same wine in 2 different bottles, one simple bottle, with plain label, another bottle was much nicer, label had some made up chateau blah blah name and far more fancier design was well. They picked 10 random people in the restaurant and asked them to taste both and then describe each.
Not one(!) of the participants guessed the wine was the same. Each of the participants spent anywhere from 30 seconds to 2-3 minutes describing how the wine in more expensive bottle had better bouquet, aroma, aftertaste and bunch of other wine tasting terms, the amount of terms varied from reviewer to reviewer. Obviously, the more they have read or knew about wine tasting the more eloquently they went about the wine from expensive bottle being so much better. Except none of them guesses they were tasting the same wine. Simply put, more knowledgeable wine tasters spewed out a lot more BS, in more sophisticated terms.

there are no great wines, only great bottles of wine. that's true everywhere.
You have no idea how right you are :D

For judging blind tasting is the only way. As for the rest of us, well we don't buy wine blindly or we believe so. Doesn't matter how much mater how good Napa wines are, or if they are 3x better than Bordeaux, suggestion or perception is there, and it'll take very long time and very good marketing to replace one suggestion with another.

Back to the OP, I still can't find custom Euro knives or high end Euro knives that are "fraction" of the Japanese knives, unless we're assuming 50K is average price for J knives, but that's not a base line. In my experience, ordering a custom from Europe is more expensive compared to making one in US. Taxes are higher, so is the cost of material and the end product.
 
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